By understanding exactly what identity theft is, how it happens, and how it affects you, you will be better able to prevent and, if necessary, resolve identity theft.
In general, identity theft is more extensive than fraud, which is usually limited to an isolated attempt to steal money from an existing account. Fraud and identity theft can be easily confused so we recommend that you review not only this page, but also Fake Emails and Web Sites and Fraudulent Pop-up Windows, so you can confirm that you are addressing the appropriate issue.
What is identity theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone illegally obtains your personal information — such as your Social Security number, bank account number, or other identification — and uses it repeatedly to open new accounts or initiate transactions in your name. For example, someone might do a combination of the following: open new credit cards, open new bank accounts, forge checks, and even apply for loans using your name and personal information. This can cause financial loss and damage your credit, which can lead to a lengthy resolution process.
How does identity theft happen?
Identity theft is portrayed as a high-tech crime affecting only those people who shop, communicate, or do business online. However, while thieves can obtain personal information via online methods, the majority of identity theft occurs offline. Stealing wallets and purses, intercepting or rerouting your mail, and rummaging through your garbage are some of the common tactics that thieves can use to obtain personal information. The good news is that the more information you have about identity theft the better your defense.
How can I help protect myself?
- Do not open or respond to online solicitations for personal information. Valley Bank of Commerce will never send email containing attachments, or require customers to send personal information via email or pop-up windows.
- Carry only necessary identification. In particular, do not carry your Social Security card.
- When a Social Security number is requested to sign up for a service, confirm that it is actually needed rather than some other identifier.
- Make photocopies of all the information you carry daily and store them in a secure location like a safety deposit box.
- Shred financial or personal documents before discarding. Most fraud and identity theft incidences happen as a result of mail and garbage theft.
- Utilize paperless options and limit your receipt of paper statements by managing your accounts online.
- Always put outgoing mail in a U.S. Postal Service mailbox, which is more secure than your home mailbox.
- Collect your mail promptly each day.
Valley Bank of Commerce works constantly to help protect our customers from criminal activity. As an informed customer, you are a great ally in this effort. To learn more about identity theft, you can reference the following sites: